The cuisine of Ecuador, like in most Latin American countries, the cuisine of Ecuador is the result of the strong influence of European and Asian conquerors and some neighboring countries. It is certainly one of the most colorful and historically interesting Latin American cuisines. Below you will find 10 of the most traditional dishes of Ecuador.
Encebollado is a typical dish of Ecuadorian gastronomy, specifically from the coastal area, which originated long before the conquest, when the natives cooked fish in ceramic pots over low heat. The onion, an ingredient that arrived with the Spaniards, was added later.
This dish, also known as Picante de Pescado, is prepared with albacore or tuna, red onion, yucca, cilantro, tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder. The modern version of this soup dates from the ’50s. Since then, its consumption has become popular because it is considered a powerful energy booster.
It is generally consumed on weekends in the morning. However, it can also be part of lunch. Eggs, chifles, or popcorn accompany this popular recipe from the Ecuadorian coasts. Lime juice with chili is usually added to give it a spicy touch. There is also the option of onion curtido, which is placed on top of the soup.
Locro de papa is just one of the wide variety of soups that represent the typical food of Ecuador. Its main ingredient: the potato, which was historically cultivated in the highlands of the Andes. The peasants of yesteryear used to prepare at least three varieties of the tuber on hotplates to modify its consistency and flavor.
This dish, of pre-Hispanic origin, is made with achiote, oil, and a white onion sauce. Then add the potatoes to water, and boil until the potatoes are soft. Finally, add milk and serve with avocado and cheese.
One of the variations of this dish is called Locro Quiteño and is made by adding shrimp, cabbage, peanuts, and corn to the traditional ingredients. Another variant of this dish, called Yagualocro (in Quechua means blood locro), is made with fried bovine blood and tripe. It has a certain similarity with the famous Spanish blood sausage. Avocado is also added to this preparation.
Ceviche is a dish that is prepared throughout Latin America. However, the Ecuadorian version is perhaps the most widespread and well-known region. Some historians say that the suffix iche means tasty, rich, and comes from the Manabí culture.
This dish, in principle, was prepared with raw fish most of the time, adding some typical Ecuadorian fruits such as passion fruit and taxo, as well as herbs from the region such as chilanga. But with the arrival of the Spaniards, several ingredients were mixed, and the ceviche that today delights millions of Ecuadorians was created.
Lemon, coriander, and onion arrived from Europe to complement the original Ecuadorian ceviche, basically composed of seafood, fish (both river and sea), and mollusks. Over time, this dish has undergone variations according to the region where it is prepared. For example, in the province of Manabí they add peanuts.
Ceviche, considered by many as the most representative star dish of Ecuadorian gastronomy, can also be made with meat. The meat is marinated with lemon juice and sour orange and coriander, avocado, chili, and tomatoes.
Llapingachos are tortillas made with flattened potato dough and stuffed with cheese. The origin of the name of this food is related to the Salaskas Indians, belonging to the Tungurahua province. Some historians affirm that this peculiar name comes from llapingue which means flattened in Quechua.
The llapingachos are usually served with chorizo, peanut sauce, fried egg, lettuce, avocado, roasted meat, rice, chili, and pico de gallo. In other cities such as Riobamba and Latacunga it is accompanied by roasted pork.
Llapingacho is also enjoyed in southern Colombia, but with some variations. Although it is a dish that comes from the country’s highlands, it can be found in almost any part of Ecuador. In the border town of Ipales, it is served with pork and accompanied with chili and lettuce.
The llapingachos are the pride of Ecuador, which captivates its inhabitants and travelers arriving from every corner of the planet. It is usually one of the first culinary recommendations received when a tourist arrives in Ecuador.
The Bandera, one of the most colorful dishes of Ecuador, is the result of the combination of several dishes such as guatita, shrimp cebiche, encebollado de gallina, and ceviche de concha; served in a single dish. The version dating from the ’70s is perhaps the most accepted by most Ecuadorians with an uncertain origin.
According to the locals, it all began in a business in the Cuenca Street market, which later received the name of La Placita. Normally chicken broth, cebiche de concha, catfish broth, encebollado de gallina, caldo de pata, among many others, were served, but the customers began to ask for a combination of everything served in a single dish.
This is how this dish was born, which has traveled throughout the Ecuadorian territory for more than 50 years. Nowadays, the versatility of this dish allows it to adapt to the demands of the diners, who are free to decide what other ingredients they want to add.
Churrasco is a dish that enjoys great popularity in Latin America, but the Ecuadorian version is slightly different. It is a thin steak, grilled or fried, accompanied by fried potatoes, eggs, salad, ripe plantains, chili, and avocado. Although the meat is also the base, it does not have the dimensions that are customary in other latitudes.
In Ecuador, when referring to churrasco, it does not refer only to the meat but also to the set of elements that comprise the dish. However, this thin fillet of meat is given all the attention at the moment of its preparation. Therefore, the meat is seasoned with onion, olive oil, salt, garlic, a touch of pepper, and cumin.
While the Ecuadorian churrasco is far from its regional counterparts, its characteristics are more similar to the Peruvian Bistec a lo Pobre or the Colombian Bistec a Caballo. For special occasions, this dish is usually prepared with a fine sirloin steak.
You can replace the portion of French fries with bean stew or simply increase the amount of salad.
Encocado de pescado
Encocado de Pescado owes its name to the main ingredient it is made: coconut water. This delicacy comes from the Ecuadorian province of Esmeraldas. In colonial times, enslaved Africans settled and combined their recipes with the ingredients they found in the area to create this dish more than 200 years ago.
For its preparation, corvina is generally used, a saltwater fish known by the names of Reig or Andeja. It is combined with seafood such as crab, shrimp, and shellfish. Some varieties include chicken, tatabra, beef, venison, and guacharaca. As an accompaniment, it is commonly served with rice and ripe plantains or patacones.
For its preparation, you must clean the corvina, or fish of your choice, add some salt to taste and apply lemon juice on top, leave it like this for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, in a frying pan, make a sauce, mix it with the coconut milk and wait until it has a good consistency. Then add the fish and cover it until the preparation is complete.
Add a little more coconut milk and serve it with white rice and patacones or the desired side dish.
Chaulafan originated with the arrival of the first Asians to Ecuador in 1840. This community took advantage of the leftovers from lunch and added rice, commonly eaten during the work break at snack time. Today, several Quiteño families use the same ancestral recipe, called “calentadito”.
With the passage of time, this preparation took root and adopted the name of chaulafan. It is a dish that does not have a strict recipe as such. Its preparation is subject to the diners’ demands and the creativity of the cooks of Ecuador. It is a very varied preparation that can be chicken, seafood, vegetarian, shrimp, pineapple, black or white sauce, among many others.
This Ecuadorian version of Chinese rice is usually the main dish and sometimes the only one served in restaurants of this food specialty. According to the locals, the city of Quevedo is where the chaulafan was created since it is the distinctive dish of that city.
The chaulafan is food that enjoys great popularity in Ecuador, thanks to the ease and versatility of its preparation. In addition, due to the amount of ingredients used in its preparation, this dish has a high nutritional value.
Bolón de verde
Bolón de verde is a characteristic dish of the coastal area of Ecuador, which is preferably eaten as breakfast. However, it is also suitable as a side dish and an appetizer. Classified as a national dish, its main ingredient is green plantain. These are cooked and crushed to form a dough stuffed with pork rinds, cheese, and/or chorizo. It is the delight of the coasts in Ecuador.
Once the dough is ready, it is baked, fried or grilled. When they are not part of breakfast, they are usually accompanied with seco de carne, scrambled (or fried) egg, and a cup of coffee, depending on the diner’s preference.
Thanks to its versatility, imagination is the limit for the elaboration of this dish. If you want a vegetarian version, you could opt for grilling the dough, filled only with cheese. The cheese and chicharrón fillings are the most popular. However, this can vary according to taste and the availability of ingredients at the moment.
Guatita is so popular in Ecuador that, like bolón de verde, it is considered a national dish. This dish, called mondongo in other regions, is composed of pieces of beef offal, peanuts, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, and potatoes.
In many places, it is consumed as a complement to La Bandera, accompanied by encebollado, casserole, or rice and noodles according to the diners’ preferences.
This is a high-calorie dish. The guatitas must be washed very well, preferably with lemon juice, and then boiled for its preparation. Then they are fried with peppers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, beans, peanut butter, cilantro, peanuts, and other spices.
One of the outstanding characteristics of Ecuadorian gastronomy is the variety of ingredients used in its recipes. The influence of other cultures, the breadth of its geography, its agricultural products, and the diversity of its regions and customs are present in each of its typical dishes. A culinary experience to be enjoyed!